Pitbull

El Mariel
(TVT)

Pitbull's newest CD, El Mariel, includes lines like "Welcome to the real Dade County/Where we're soldiers from birth to the hearse/That's why my childhood included a bulletproof vest," and "Welcome to the real Miami/Where we live to die." Typical rapper throw-down boasts, yes, but that's the only thing that's typical about El Mariel. Cuban-American Pitbull mixes English and Spanish lyrics, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and hard-hitting hip-hop beats. El Mariel has several standout tunes such as "Jealouso," which starts off with just Pitbull and some bongos, then adds a tambourine, other percussion instruments and singers as the beat builds. Thirty seconds in, "Jealouso" is impossible not to dance to. Pharrell, who is also featured, co-wrote the track. Another highlight is the slightly more laid-back but just as infectious "Que Tu Sabes d'Eso" ("What Do You Know About That"), which features Fat Joe and Sinful. (Other guest artists on El Mariel include Wyclef, Lil Jon, and the Ying Yang Twins.) Old-school fans will enjoy the taste of Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe on "Come See Me," which includes a sample of their hit "La Murga de Panama." If you don't know what the title El Mariel refers to, don't worry; Pitbull includes a couple of musical history lessons for you, including one that compares the Mariel boatlift to the "Katrina buslift."
 
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